Synonyms: Clematis columbiana Other names: western blue virginsbower Nomenclature: occidentalis = western Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
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General: perennial woody vine, strongly climbing or creeping on the ground, somewhat softly long-hairy to sparsely woolly-hairy, with slender stems.
Leaves: opposite, on stalks 5-10 cm long, divided into 3 leaflets with individual stalks about 1-2 cm long, the leaflets ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 3-6 cm long, pointed, entire or blunt- to sharply toothed.
Flowers: solitary, nodding, terminal on naked stalks 5-15 cm long from leaf axils on branches. Petals lacking, sepals 4, free, showy, petal-like, ovate- lanceolate to elliptic-lanceolate, usually pointed, 3.5-6 cm long, blue to reddish-purple. Staminodia often present, with flattened and somewhat broadened filaments, but not much broader than the fertile stamens.
Fruits: achenes, small, inconspicuous, short-hairy, with long, feathery styles 3-6 cm long in fluffy clusters.
Moist to dry soil in wooded to open areas, often on talus slopes, foothills to montane zone, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta southward, on the e. side of the Cascade Mts., to WA, n.e. OR, and WY.
A poultice of the pounded, dampened leaves of blue clematis has been applied by the Okanagan-Colville Indians to the feet to treat sweaty feet. They also made a tea of leaves alone or the stems and leaves and used it as a hair wash to prevent gray hair. The Navajo Indians used a cold tea of the plant as a lotion on swollen knees and ankles. The Thompson Indians used the plant as a head wash and to treat scabs and eczema.
The seed floss makes an excellent tinder for starting fires, a spark from a flint will quickly ignite it. The seed floss can also be used as an insulation in shoes etc.
Our specimen belong to var. grosseserrata (Rydb.) J. Pringle.
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